We've talked about the importance of headlines in the CRO Junkies Facebook Group many times. But it's worth revisiting again and again because they're so important. A headline's job is to get attention and convert it into interest. And it's worth brainstorming as many as possible until you have a fantastic headline. Create 50 - 100 of them and pick the best one. Without a good headline, without the visitor's attention, you have nothing.

Screenshot courtesy of SEJ

Do questions work better than statements for conversions?

I've always learned that people come to websites for answers, not questions. But sometimes with CRO, logic and a collection of split test evidence goes out the window. A great conversion rate optimization agency deeply understands this. So I ask you, which of the two copy treatments below resulted in a higher increase in conversions?

Treatment A

Treatment A had the following headlines on the landing page.

  • 100 NIGHT Comfort Exchanges | 25 Year Warranty | 100 NIGHT Return Policy
  • Free Shipping! - Try it for 100 Nights!
  • 100 NIGHT Satisfaction Guarantee FREE Shipping & FREE Returns

Treatment B

Treatment B conveyed similar, although slightly different information, and two of the headlines took a question-based approach.

  • Try your mattress for 100 NIGHTS & sleep better — or your money back.
  • Not sure if a [MATTRESS PRODUCT NAME WENT HERE] is right for you? Why not sleep on it? 100 NIGHT MONEY-BACK GUARANTEE
  • Worried about buying a mattress online? Learn More about [MATTRESS COMPANY NAME’S] Comfort Exchange

Think about it. You have a question, which is generally "How can I get a solution to my problem" and you go to a website and they start asking you questions. Have you ever been in a conversation with somebody and you ask them a question and they answer you with a question? Its irritating because it's a shift for control of the conversation. That's my take.

If you ask me, the most important part of a website is the HEADLINE. Granted, not every web page qualifies for a headline. But for those that do, without a great headline, the value proposition, the CTA, and the entire landing page may not even be considered, or read. What's the most important part of an email? The subject line. Without a great subject line, you have absolutely nothing at all. Same thing with the headline of a web page.

Use contractions

Conversational tone is an important tenant for great conversions. For some reason, when people write copy for their websites, they often choose wording that sounds a bit robotic.

The goal of a web page is to engage the viewer in a virtual conversation. You want your web pages, and other sales copy, to read more like an in-person conversation. An easy way to accomplish this is to use contractions for common words.

I know this flies in the face of what many of you learned in school as proper "writing". But bear in mind that your website is not a thesis. Its sales copy. And sales copy converts better when it reads more conversational.

Recent Conversion Rate Optimization Overhaul

I recently did a conversion rate optimization overhaul of a website home page and increased the conversions from around 3% to 8%. No split testing. Just applying all of the principles shared with this group over the past 8 months. Conversions nearly tripled with a blind overhaul. I can't take all the credit, the client helped with the brainstorming process. So what did we do?

1. Researched and brainstormed the target market to get a better idea of their values, pain points and needs.
2. Created a value proposition (they didn't even have one) - We started by brainstorming several dozen headlines. One stood out, and we went with it. Then we built a relevant subheadline that connected with and continued from where the headline left off so as to ensure perfect continuity. Then we packed value and specific, clear benefits into several bullet points and finished it off with a "get statement" Call to Action and trust icons.
3. Reworked the entire home page to create a flow that more aligns with the way people think. We started off by restructuring the first sections to present benefits. Then the next sections solved problems. Then the next few section answered questions. Finally, we created sections that demonstrated social proof and company personality and authority better than it was being implemented. Using this method we were able to create a flow that better controlled user chronology with website geography.
4. Repeated an alternate value proposition at the bottom of the page with a similar CTA
5. Cleaned up the header and menu to make it less complicated.

In the end, we didn't even have to create any significant new content for the home page. They already had some good stuff. It was just not in the right order, and lacked the flow and polish it needed to connect with people and establish that mental conversation that gets people thinking "yes, yes, yes, yes, yes I wan't this and I can only get it from you".

A few days after the changes were live, they had their best sales day in company history.

The best part was working with the client. We did all of this live over Zoom, together, in about 6 hours. He trusted me implicitly and brought out the best in me. (so important, as you all know). We had a good time doing the work and he even hired me to work on another project which is in process now.

Some Examples

Here's an excerpt from my SEO Spring Training CRO presentation. These two slides are on headline/subheadline continuity:

(First slide) - Subheadline disconnection

The first image is an example of a poor sub-headline. Why? First of all, there isn’t one. A giant CTA takes the place of the subheadline and creates a disconnection. The website asks the reader if they need urgent dental care, but it doesn't answer that question. The site immediately jumps forward in the thought sequence by placing the company's selfish desire to get visitors to call. The bullet points are good, but they’re completely unrelated to the headline. They don’t build upon the attention the headline may have garnered at all (it's a terrible headline). There is no supporting information about urgent care and this lack of continuity muddies the possibility of having a sequential conversation in the visitor's mind.

(next slide) – Subheadline continuity

To demonstrate what I mean about subheadline continuity, I did a mockup of the previous page on the second image. Instead of having the CTA second in the value prop sequence, I created a sub headline that says “Get a same day appointment in as little as 1 hour. Relieve your pain today.” Now the subheadline picks up where the headline left off. It more effectively converts the headline’s attention into interest and they both work together to form a cohesive message that is worded in a way that presents clarity and value. That’s why they call it a value proposition after all right?

Now the bullets make more sense too. They are extra benefits that increase the value of the headline and subheadline. This increases the power of the entire value proposition. Notice the CTA comes last in the sequence now. You should almost never ask something of your visitors until you have given them a compelling reason to do so.

I love this example from the most recent Marketing Sherpa newsletter. Its a powerful and simple example how important a headline can be. The headline version on the bottom alone reduced bounce rates from 78% to 47%!

Image from Marketing Sherpa